Should I paint or Stain my Log Home
My dream log cabin podcast


Hey Cabin Lovers, welcome to season 2 of the My Dream Log Cabin Podcast.

I’m your host Lindsay Sutherland and this episode is brought to you by Caribou Creek custom log home builders where passion, artisanship, and experience come together to give your dream log home.

Project update: The team has been busy on a reset in Wyoming so it is quiet around the shop. 

Did you know Caribou Creek offers a reset service? A reset service involves a Caribou Creek crew going to the job site to reassemble the log kit for the customer. Contractors love this feature because it saves them intensive labor hours which translates into savings for clients too! Ask us about our reset service when you schedule your no-obligation call.

Why do we fall in love with log cabins, because of the natural beauty of the wood grain, the rustic earthiness, and the cozy vibes, right?

So why on earth would someone consider painting a log cabin? Well, we wonder that too, but it is actually a question that we get asked in all innocence of course.

I’ll never forget the day I asked Darin, the GM, “What do we paint the logs with?” In my mind, at the time, paint and stain were all the same. But, the truth is, there are some major differences and significant side effects to using paint on logs.

By the way, this is a good tip to learn if you end up shopping for a log home that is already built. Don’t buy a log home that has been painted! Let’s talk about why.

On one hand, it makes sense to think that painting logs would provide a nice protection from the elements. I mean, farmer’s have been painting wooden fences for years, why not paint a log home?


Log cabin bedroom

Why painting a log home is a bad idea...

The truth is that painting exterior log walls will result in trapped moisture which causes log rot. Think about that farmer’s fence for a moment, as the elements break down the paint what happens… it flakes off right? Well, when the paint is on a log house it’s sure to develop a crack or a gap somewhere that won’t be noticed. Moisture will build up inside and voila, you have yourself a rot spot. Additionally, logs retain a certain level of moisture which would get trapped by the paint.

Stain on the other hand, allows the logs to breathe while still repelling moisture. This is why stain is more suitable for log homes.

Aesthetically, speaking, stain brings out the natural beauty of logs that we all are attracted to. Plus, stains today come in a variety of colors so there are plenty of options to choose from.

5 tips to help avoid problems when refinishing a log home

Here are some more tips on how you can avoid problems when finishing your cabin.

#1 – Prepare the logs. If you are staining a new home a simple dusting of the logs will be sufficient, but if you are refinishing a previously stained home it is a good idea to media blast the logs to remove the old stain. Especially if it is showing signs of flaking. Pressure washing the logs is not recommended. Remember, we want to reduce moisture not add to it.

#2 Choosing the right product. Using higher quality products will ensure the work lasts longer and looks better. We typically recommend PermaChink. 

#3 Not testing the stain on the home. Just like artificial hair dye will look different on different hair pigments, stains will look different on various wood species. If you can, ask your builder to provide a free log sample that you can test stains on, that way you don’t have to mar your new home. 

#4 Failing to blend multiple batches. If your going to use more than one gallon of finish, and pretty much every new home does, then it’s recommended that you blend the stains when preparing to transition so that you don’t end up with a noticeable line where the old batch met the new batch.

#5 The weather needs to be right. Applying stain in the wrong conditions is a waste of time and recourses. A period of dry non-windy days is necessary. If possible, apply the stain when it is shady so that it doesn’t dry too quickly.

What if the home was previously painted?

If you purchased a log home that was painted and you wish to remove the paint and refinish with stain, start by media blasting the logs until the bare wood is visible. Inspect thoroughly for signs of rot and treat the areas accordingly. For mild rot it may be possible to simply media blast it further, but for more significant rot a portion of the log(s) may need to be removed and replaced.  Perma-Chink makes a synthetic log product that can be used as a filler to fill holes or gaps. The product can then be stained along with the logs for a seamless finish.

If the damage seems extensive it is recommended to hire a professional to inspect the home for structural damage and recommend a solution.

Your Host

Lindsay is the host of the podcast My Dream Log Cabin. After chasing her dream of living in a log cabin in the woods, she found herself in North Idaho living in a log cabin and working with Caribou Creek Log Homes! Her posts are based on her experience and education while working with Caribou Creek.

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